Luke Davids was working on former Bad Company singer, Brian Howe’s, solo album (Howe is best known for his work on 1990’s Bad Company album Holy Water [ATCO] which sold one million copies and yielded five top-15 singles). “We were out to dinner talking about songwriting. I’ve been the ballad king, and I said to him that I felt I needed to write fast songs. He told me you can’t write what you don’t feel. After that, I convinced myself the only music worth writing is the music I truly feel.”
The London-born artist started writing songs at age 8. “The first song I wrote was called ‘Nobody Cares About Me,’ it was a ballad. I don’t think my parents were too impressed,” he says laughing. His writing grew as his innate abilities on the piano developed. After his formative years at Purcell, his family relocated to Orlando, Florida where Davids continued to grow as a songwriter. “At 17 I would write songs with these elaborate interludes but that got overbearing,” Davids explains. “Ultimately, music theory and technique don’t matter when it comes to songwriting. I learned it gets in the way because it makes you think in a framework that doesn’t apply to songwriting. When you just let yourself play, you stumble upon the best ideas.”
“Luke Davids” is a lush and crisply produced debut from an artist with pop smarts, refined chops, an angelic voice, and a powerfully honest lyric approach. The album is a piano-based collection of nine songs with inventive arrangements that evoke the refined hooks of The Beatles, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello and Ben Folds Five, while maintaining a contemporary and stately pop flair that’s all Luke Davids.
The breezy charm of “Better Days” unfolds with sweet grace. The track is richly detailed with soaring lead vocals, airy backup vocals, organ, strings, horns, and guitar, but with each instrument and embellishment expertly mixed for nuanced dynamics that bring out the song’s uplifting spirit. The song was part of David’s recent period of creative revelation where he’s learned to be more instinctual and emotional in his writing. Part of this growth was discovering the highly influential but under-the-mainstream-radar 1970s folk-pop songwriter Harry Nilsson. “I felt liberated when it came to format, usually in pop there is a verse, a pre-chorus, and then the chorus. Harry didn’t think like that, it freed me, and I threw out pop conventions. ‘Better Days’ basically has two main parts. I started doing that approach a lot more.”
This feeling of inner freedom, creating and living from an uncontrived place within, also imbues the ebullient “Losing Ground.” The song’s ease, its flowing and silky melodicism perfectly scores the lyric. Davids sings: “You’ve noticed I’m a man of my word/You’ve seen the reaction/So now I plan to be a man of my heart/And put my head out of action.” “That song is written from a real personal perspective. I have a tendency to plan everything out,” Davids admits. “Lyrically the song is about letting go.”
When Davids and co-producer Brooks Paschal tried to write something preconceived, they spent a whole day frustrated on the couch. “Later that evening we took a break. Brooks sat down at the piano and played something that ended up being the first verse of ‘Remarkable Plans.’ I picked up a guitar and started playing the chorus. We finished the song in over an hour,” Davids says. The duo kept the song’s production treatment essential, keeping the four-piece band feel for an elegantly paired down approach.
The album was produced by Brooks Paschal and Luke Davids, with the two playing all of the album’s instruments, a staggering feat considering the layers of refined, detailed, and varied instrumental parts. It was recorded at Mockingbird Studios in Orlando, Florida with an innovative tactic. “We finished each song individually. Usually you do everything in one shot with an album, like all the guitars in one. By focusing and completing one full song at a time, you allow for each track to have its own identity,” Davids explains.
“I used to try to write for a certain genre,” Davids says, assessing his newfound creative wellspring. “The thing that helped me was to forget about that and just write what I feel. These are my most honest songs.”
Edited by lukedavidsmusic on 20 Aug 2012, 03:14
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